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Jan 19, 2009 05:47 AM

Suggestions for specifically "Arizonian" food

I am looking for a suggestions of a dish, specific ingredient, or regional restaurant that would be considered emblematic of Arizona - not just generally Southwestern - whether it be a food that originated in the state or something that is just not found that much elsewhere.
We are not looking to physically go to the restaurant(s) but rather be inspired by the menus and get a better idea of what exactly is Arizona cuisine - so the geographic suggestion is open to anywhere in the state.
Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

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  1. My vote goes to the chimichanga. Depending on who you believe, it was invented one of two ways. The first is here in Phoenix by the founder of the Macayo's, who one day tried putting some leftover burros in the deep fryer and found the end result to be wonderful. The second (and the one I believe) is down in Tucson at El Charro, where owner Monica Flin accidentally dropped a burrito in the deep fryer, and started to say "Ay, chingado!", which isn't getting translated here as this is an all-ages board. She caught herself halfway through and said "chimichanga" instead, sort of the spanish equivalent of "doohickey". The name stuck.

    There's always Indian fry bread, too.

    1 Reply
    1. I am going to put up for consideration my favorite of all favorite foods: my beloved Cheese Crisp. Now, it is only two ingredients. A flour tortilla and some cheese. But if the cook is paying attention and knows his or her stuff, the result is ambrosia. (Click on my avatar to see what one looks like.)

      Oddly, finding a cheese crisp outside of Arizona is quite rare, much like finding Carne Seca outside of Tucson.

      Unfortunately, cheese crisps run the gamut of outstanding to pathetic, so what you are looking for is a tortilla that is crunchy and supports the melted cheese and an amount of cheese that compliments the tortilla.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Seth Chadwick

        Brilliant. My introduction to the Cheese Crisp was at the school cafeteria when I moved to AZ from Missouri. That school cafeteria got it was divine...and still serves as one of my first introductions to AZ food.

        1. re: Seth Chadwick

          great suggestions (carne seca, as well as the cheese crisps!) Do you have a preference on the type of cheese used? Thanks, thanks - this is exactly the kind of insider info was hoping to find.

          1. re: stockmo

            I have had wonderful cheese crisps using cheedar, monterey Jack or any other mild cheese that melts evenly.

            Just be wary of places that sell the dreaded Cheese Limp. If you pick a piece up and it starts to droop, the kitchen didn't crisp up the tortilla. I always ask at any restaurant that serves them to cook them well done. That usually helps.